Theodore Robert Bundy most commonly referred to as Ted Bundy was one of the most infamous American serial killers in history. His known active killing spree was between 1973 and 1978. Before his execution Ted confessed to over 30 murders, although police suspect the actual number is estimated to be 35 or more. His technique was to entice young women into being alone with him then kidnap, thrash and strangle them to death. He confessed to acts of rape, mutilation and necrophilia with his victims. He escaped twice from county jails prior to his final capture in 1978, and was executed by electric chair in Florida January 24th 1989.
Bundy lived with his mother and grandparents on the outskirts of Philadelphia during early childhood. His mother didn’t know who Ted’s father was and to avoid the social shame that came with being a young unwed mother, his grandparents claimed Ted as their son. He reportedly grew up believing that his mother was his older sister, and did not learn the truth about his biological parents until 1974. (IMDb) His grandfather was known to be temperamentally unpredictable, cruel toward animals, totalitarian, and a user of pornography. Bundy reported a strong early attachment to him. In junior high school, Bundy was frequently bullied by his fellow male students for his reservedness. He performed well academically, but was socially introverted and somewhat awkward. Later he became aware during high school that he did not understand the social part of life, nor did he understand friendships, relationships or why people wanted those things. He also had an allurement with brutal forms of pornography, and enveloped crime books and magazines on sexually violent topics. He later went on to become an honor student in psychology at the University of Washington, and was enrolled in law school. He became romantically involved with a female student named Stephanie, the daughter of a wealthy California family. Her family had everything he ever wanted, money, influence, etc. “Ted had a pivotal breakup with his girlfriend Stephanie, which leads him to choose to attack and murder young women who resemble her.” (TSU)
Ted’s development is usually best understood in the context of Ainsworth/Bowlby’s attachment theories, Piaget’s moral development model and Erickson’s psychosocial development theory. (educheer) Louise Bundy was 22 years old when she gave birth to Ted, and was shunned by her church and family. After birth, she left infant Ted at the Elizabeth Lund Home for 3 months and returned to Philadelphia, considering whether to place him up for adoption. Ted was bereft of the proximity and nurturance of his biological mother during a critical development period when important attachments of trust and security are normally met by the caregiver. (Simply Psychology). When she took him home to Philadelphia, the absence of synchrony with his mother was likely characterized by an avoidant/insecure or disorganized/disoriented attachment style, and an important underpinning of healthy emotional development was compromised.
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Infants who have inconsistent parents may learn that their caregiver can’t be trusted, consistent with Erickson’s psychosocial development theory. Usually by 8 months, babies behave in ways in which signal a robust preference for one caregiver, usually the mother. Ted later recalled only an attachment to his grandfather of unknown quality, as his grandmother was known to be depressed and treated with electroshock . It is likely that Louise was depressed during this era which likely predisposed him to negative affect, self-directed coping, and interactive failure. Very little is documented about Ted’s infant temperament, although fluctuation was a temperamental trait observed later in his childhood.
Louise and Ted left for Washington State, a move that disrupted a secure attachment with his grandfather. When his stepfather, Johnnie Bundy, married Louise, Ted spent time with him only grudgingly, despite Johnnie’s efforts to involve him in activities. He later admitted he was self-conscious by his family’s indigence, and felt humiliated at being seen riding in Johnnie’s run-down Rambler, conceivably his earliest documented recollecting of feelings of insufficiency, anger, and a poorly developed self-confidence. Ted began isolating himself in his bedroom with the radio, he enjoyed listening to news broadcasts or talk shows because it gave him the sensation of eavesdropping on others conversations, and it became a major source of invigoration. He kept this activity secret from his parents, along side his first ventures into pornography. His outlying pattern would support an over-productive imagination and fantasy. Such isolation produces characteristics of feelings of inadequacy experienced by other known serial killers.
Bundy sought out women whose appearance and background satisfied his craving to escape his common origins. His predominant interest in early adulthood relationships was to be seen with attractive women and to be admired, and his obsession with social pretense became insatiable leaving him vulnerable to the devastating effects of humiliation. Eventually, Bundy, using generalization, transferred internalized humiliation to his victims. Once uninhibited, the internalized humiliation became a terrible destructive force.